December 22nd, 2011 at 11:10am
The National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that all mobile phones be banned in cars, even hands-free phones. But in a startling outbreak of common sense, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he does not support the ban. Rumors are swirling around Italy that Luca di Montezemolo might run for prime minister. GM engineers are working to eradicate noisy brakes. All that and more, plus a look at the new Volkswagen Golf R.
This is Autoline Daily for December 22. And now the news.
KILLING US WITH SAFETY
When it comes to safety regulations, Americans seem to be more hysterical than anyone else in the world. The National Transportation Safety Board recently recommended that all mobile phones be banned in cars, even hands-free phones. But in a startling outbreak of common sense, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he does not support the ban. Back in the 1970s, safety zealots actually wanted regulations that would force everyone in a car to wear a crash helmet. Fortunately, that idea went nowhere.
OPTIMUS PRIME MINISTER
In Italy they seem to change Prime Ministers as often as the rest of us change our socks. Now rumors are swirling around the country that Luca di Montezemolo might run for PM. Luca is the president of Ferrari, and has been heavily involved in Formula One, which is probably the one of the best training grounds for political maneuvering, bribery, deceit, cheating and subterfuge. Forget about reading Machiavelli, Formula One is a much more instructive classroom if you want to be prince.
GM “STOPPING” BRAKE NOISE
STOP the presses! A few weeks ago GM announced it’s working to put an end to rusty brakes rotors through a special heating-treating process. Today, its engineers are looking to eradicate brake squeal as well. The company just announced it has patented a design for a new type of rotor. These discs have special metallic rings inside. The inserts are installed during the casting process, but surprisingly they’re NOT solidly fixed to the discs. This allows them to absorb vibrations, which cuts noise. Think of the design as a bell that doesn’t want to ring. GM’s quiet brakes are still under development, but look for this technology to reach the market in two or three years.
EXCITING NEWS! OH, WAIT . . .
The unpopular Honda Crosstour is getting some updates for the New Year. Front-wheel-drive models will now be offered with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Despite being paired with an antiquated five-speed automatic transmission, the fuel economy numbers jump to 21/city and 29/highway. That’s two to three MPG better than with the V-6. The Corsstour has been a sales dud and I think the company is looking for some kind of quick fix try and get more people to buy it.
TOYOTA’S 2012 REBOUND
It’s been a tough year for Toyota, with natural disasters in Japan and Thailand cutting into production and profits. But next year Toyota expects a 20 percent jump in global sales to about 8.5 million units. This year the company expects a little over 7 million in sales.
A LITTLE “RAY” OF SUNSHINE
Kia just introduced an electric version of its Ray for the Korean market, which the company says is the first production EV to be introduced in the country. It’s got a range of 86 miles and can be recharged in six hours on a 220V outlet. Top speed is 81 MPH and it moves from 0 to 100 km/h in 16 seconds. And as bad as that sounds, it’s actually better than the gasoline-powered version. When it’s traveling under 12 MPH, the Ray EV emits recorded engine noises to warn pedestrians. It will be produced on the same production line as the gasoline version, which Kia claims is a first for an EV maker, but maybe they’re not aware Ford is doing the same thing with the Focus. Kia plans to produce 2,500 units next year for use by government agencies.
A quick correction here. Yesterday we reported prices for the Tesla Model S and we said they included the $7,500 federal tax credit. They did not include the credit.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF R
Don’t forget to tune in tonight for a special Christmas Edition of Autoline After Hours, the last show of the year. Join me, Peter De Lorenzo and David Welch as we play Santa Claus, handing out presents and lumps of coal for the best and the worst of 2011. It’s going to be fun and funny, so join us tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Autoline After Hours.
And that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.